Just imagine standing there, looking up at a giant tree that rises above you into the sky. Even the huckleberries are several feet over your head. Standing among these giants really puts life in perspective, and the hush of the forest floor is so quiet that your footsteps sound like thunder.
Welcome to the California Redwoods, part of a unique ecosystem that includes these ancient trees as well as some of California’s prettiest coastline. In the Redwood forest, you can go biking, rafting, fishing, swimming or picnicking, but just walking around among these gigantic trees is enough of a mind-blower for most people.
If you’re in the mood for a scenic drive, you can see the sights without leaving your car or motor home on one of the park’s scenic drives. The most famous of these is the Avenue of the Giants. If the name gives you any indication, it’s pretty spectacular.
Avenue of the Giants is 31 miles of Highway 101 about 5 hours north of San Francisco. Without even leaving your motor home, you will see some of the biggest trees in the entire forest. The Avenue is also close to the Humboldt National Forest, where the oldest stand of virgin old-growth redwood trees is still standing.
Then again, if you do want to get out and walk among the giants, there are trailheads all along the way. Any time you see a sign for a trail, pull off and take it. Wherever it takes you, it will be spectacular and well worth the walking. There are also lots of great places to stop and picnic.
The Avenue of the Giants is also dotted with quaint little towns where you can stop along the way to eat, pick up souvenirs or get more information about these huge trees.
You’ve probably seen the pictures of the Shrine Drive-Thru tree. That is located in Myers Flat, and there is a turn-off in the Avenues for it. Here you can drive through one of these massive trees!
But, the redwoods are more than just trees. They are part of an entire ecosystem, including prairies, rivers and coastline as well. There are places like the Klamath River Overlook, where you can look down on the spot where the Klamath River meets the Pacific Ocean. You may also catch sight of jumping salmon, sun-bathing sea lions, flying sea-birds, seals and even gray whales.
In this pristine environment there are a variety of protected wildlife, like the Roosevelt elk, gray whales, black bears and sea anemones. There are also lots of interesting little critters, like the massive banana slugs, so named because of their bright color and fruit-size.
The California redwoods are a great destination for motor home travelers, and there are some wonderful campgrounds where you can stay.
Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park is open from May 1st to September 30th, and is located right in the middle of the forest. There are 145 sites that allow both tents and RVs, but there are restrictions on how long the motor homes can be. Call them for more information and reservations.
The campground at Jebediah Smith Redwoods State Park is open year around and its more than 100 sites accommodate RVs. There are no hookups, though, and they also have length restrictions. Call ahead for more information.
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park has 2 campgrounds which are both quite a bit smaller than the others. One has 75 sites and the smaller one has 25 and doesn’t allow trailers. Prairie Creek is great for those who really want to get away and prefer slightly more rugged accommodations.
Everyone should see the redwoods at least once. You won’t believe it!